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Learning From A Dead Dog
Consider the following story as told by Cleon Lyles:
A lady invited several friends to a mushroom steak dinner. When the maid opened the can of mushrooms, she discovered slight scum on top. Since the guests were expected at any moment, the lady suggested, "Just give the dog a little and if he eats it, it's probably alright." The dog liked it and even begged for more, so the maid poured the mushrooms all over the steak. After the main course, the maid came into the parlor with her face ashen white. She leaned over the lady to whisper into her ear the news that she had found the dog dead. The maid then nervously went back into the kitchen. the lady called the doctor and asked him to bring his stomach pump, which all of the horrified guests were subjected to.
Some time later as many guests were leaving in disgust, the lady found the maid and asked, "Where is the dog now?' The maid answered, "He's still lying out by the front steps, Mam. That's where he fell after the car hit him."
I've done it. You've done it. We probably should take the appropriate steps to keep from doing it again. We have all over-reacted to a situation before we had all of the facts, only to end up embarrassed and sometimes even with one less friend. I'm reminded of the words of a Pharisee named Nicodemus in John 7:51, "Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?" Even the irrationally judgmental Pharisees understood that God's law demanded a proper investigation of the facts before a judgment could, or should be made.
Life in the Lord's church is not life on a television sit-com! Misunderstandings based on rash assumptions aren't always funny and they can never simply be written out of the script. I must think before I react. Preventing sour feelings is always easier than healing them!
A Monumental Lie
As the flowers are all made sweeter by the sunshine and the dew,
so this old world is made brighter by the lives of folks like you.
Should you be strolling through the cemetery admiring the various headstones and memorable epitaphs, this one would probably cause you to stop and take pause. The saying is beautiful. You might reflect upon your own friends and family, good folks, concerning who just such a saying fits - something they should have written on their headstone. Then you would notice the dates -- October 1, 1910 - May 23, 1934. Then the name -- Bonnie Parker.
Miss Parker and a young thug named Clyde Barrow embarked on a criminal rampage that lasted twenty-one months, left dozens of bank tellers traumatized and twelve people dead, including several law enforcement officers.
I wonder what the family of H.D. Murphy thinks when they see that headstone. Mr. Murphy was a young Texas lawmen who simply pulled up to Bonnie and Clyde's car along the highway thinking they were motorists needing assistance. They shot and killed him and his partner. I wonder if Mr. Murphy's friends agree that "this old world is made brighter by the lives of folks like Bonnie Parker."
Death sure seems to blind folks doesn't it. To worldly people, death takes care of sin. Death turns immoral into heaven-bound. Death makes everything alright again. If only that were true!
Any man who reads his Bible knows that instead of being the great eraser, death can be the great magnifier, that is, of unrepented sin. Headstones are never going to be an accurate representation of a man's life. After all, no one is ever going to have one engraved with "Here lies a man who cared nothing about God or God's ways." As you consider your like today, consider your life today, consider this -- those who bury you may emphasize the fantasy, but He who raises you up will judge based on reality!
Marie Callender is No Darlene
Preaching certainly has its fringe benefits, not the least of which happens to be pie. It is one of my "favorite benefits". Having sat at tables of some mighty good cooks over the years, I've had my share of some mighty good pies. At the risk of offending every other apple pie baker, I must say the slices I enjoyed at the table of my friends Darlene and LaVerne were among the best, if not THE best. The piece she sent home, which was supposed to be for the next day, survived only until 1:30 am.
Several days later, with pie cravings still in full force, I pulled from the local frozen food case a bake-it-yourself apple pie created by some lady named Marie Callender. Later that evening I pull the steaming concoction out of the oven, so proud of myself for being able to follow the instructions on the box. I let it cool, per Mrs. Callender's advice, pour a big glass of ice-cold milk and get ready to enjoy. the first bite brings my first thought, "This ain't no Darlene apple pie." I nibbled at it for the next few days. It wasn't horrible, but after having the best, it's kinda hard to enjoy the rest.
I'm thinking it may work the same way with friends.
I find nothing in the Old Testament that indicates David ever enjoyed another friendship like the one he shared with Jonathan. Likewise, I am confident John never met another best friend like Jesus. Interestingly, Paul writes nothing of his family and very little of his non-Christian associations, but makes perfectly clear his affection for Timothy.
My best friends in life have all been fellow members of the Lord's body. it has been suggested that my life is way too sheltered, that I should broaden my friendship horizons, as it were. Fact is, it's like sister Darlene's apple pie --we get spoiled by the best. For John, it seems there was no friend like the Lord. I find no friend like those who love the Lord. We share a common bond, a common hope, a common faith the likes of which the world will never understand.
I would love to have witnessed the moment David met his old friend in Heaven, or when John was able to see his Jesus "just as he was". And I'll bet Paul and Timothy has quite a reunion. That's what makes Christian friendships the best -- long, long after this world vanished, we'll be enjoying them. And if there's pie allowed in heaven, I think I know who'll be bringing it with her.
Passing By The Paczki
For those who don't know, a Paczki (pronounced punch-key) is a dense, deep-fried pastry filled with anything from cream cheese to raspberry jelly. According to a fellow grocery store patron, they are of polish origin and have something to do with the Catholics not being allowed to have too much lard in the house around Lent, o they used it all up to make these over-the-top jelly doughnuts. He said they are supposed to be eaten around a day called Fat Thursday. Eat enough of these things, I was thinking, and you're more than likely going to have a fat Friday and fat Saturday too.
I happen to know a certain clergyman who has a rather difficult time passing these by. The bakery section is directly across from the deli. En route to the deli he finds himself often drooling over the many varieties of these delights. This clergyman will sometimes heed the pleading of his sweet wife who whispers to him, "Just keep on walking dear, just keep on walking." He will keep on walking, but somehow find an excuse to swing back by the deli for one more look. He can only swing by so many times before a box ends up in his cart.
We can only "swing by" our temptations so many times before we give in. We tell ourselves that we're only "checking things out," that we're just looking." We wander too close. Things we shouldn't watch are justified with "just this one time." places we shouldn't go are OK in our minds because we're "just looking." We are with people we should not be around because we're "just helping them out."
Can't you just see that big grin on the devil when he sees all this rationalization. If I can just keep them close, he surely must be thinking, I'll get 'em. they can only smell it, touch it, ponder it so long, before eventually they pick it up and eat it. it worked with Eve. the longer he could keep her at the tree, the longer she conversed, the more he knew he had her. And have her, he did.
Even the Son himself refused to spend too much time with the Devil. Read the story of temptation (Matthew 4). He didn't argue, He didn't rationalize, He didn't justify -- He gave short, direct answers supported by God's Word. it's as if Jesus is saying, "I'm not going to make this temptation harder by standing around listening to what you have to say about it. Here's why I am not giving in to this, now let's move on to the next one!"
You can tell yourself that you're just passing by. Everything innocent...all is on the up and up, huh? Actually, what you are doing is just making it harder on yourself and easier on your adversary. The closer we stay to the bait, the greater the chance we bite!
Young At Heart
These last seven plus years we've had a loyal, core group meeting as what we called the Woodsfield Young At Heart. We've talked about everything in the Bible from what the ark smelled like to why Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law. We've covered the book of Acts, slowly but completely. We've told a few jokes and prayed regularly for those in need. We have no official song leader (I can't carry a tune, bucket or no bucket), but that doesn't deter us. We've had a lot of good food, been to every museum I think within a two hour's ride of Woodsfield and done a whole lot of shopping for things we probably could live without.
The bus has often been too hot, or too cold, and occasionally just right. We've only been broken down officially twice - both times helped by the kindness of strangers (having "Church Bus" printed on the van and the driver acting like he was mentally challenged may have helped). The driver has been told where to turn, how to turn, where to park, where not to park, how to park, how long to park, how fast to drive, how fast not to drive, how to turn the heat up, how to turn the heat down, and back up again - and how to wear his seat belt, but that's only when his wife goes along. We've had some great restaurant food and some that made us sick, but the laughter and Christian fellowship made it ALL good!
Speaking of food, thanks to our kitchen crew who has been so faithful and so helpful with each and every meeting. The sacrifice of your time is sure appreciated.
So...this is to thank you for your interest and participation in this ministry and to let you know that as long as I am around we will continue with the meetings and field trips. We'll just take it one month at a time.
Thursday, January 30th will be our field trip. The 20th annual journey to the metropolis of New Martinsville. A sign-up sheet is in the foyer - got room for 14.
All New! Member Interests Search
Members can login (http://woodsfieldchurchofchrist.org/members/login) and under "my account settings" can select categories you are interested in. Members can search to find other members who are interested in the same thing(s). This is perfect for finding outside-of-worship activities that will appeal to everyone.
You can try out the search here.
Church Building Progress in India
Check out the progress here: http://woodsfieldchurchofchrist.org/missionaries/progress-journal-new-church-building-in-india.
The family is encouraged to donate diapers for needy children of Monroe County. Children services have children come into their care late at night and they are not prepared to provide some children with the basic necessities. If you would like to donate some diapers, bring them to the office within the next two weeks.
"It Ain't Good To Just Sit"
So said the mechanic as we stood together under my hoisted truck. From a distance, sitting in a driveway, it appears to be a good vehicle. Paint is good. Tires are nearly new. Interior looks pristine. Only has 116, 000 miles on the motor. One would think it's a vehicle with substantial life left in it. This is until one gets an up close and personal look at its underside.
One would think that for a vehicle to just sit would not necessarily be a bad thing. Less wear and tear on it' s moveable parts. Less stress on the motor. However, unless it‘s parked inside, in a controlled environment, sitting is bad, very bad. The frame rusts and then rusts some more. Vital lines, links, and fittings rust and become inoperable. It looks like it has life, but it is nearly worthless.
Just so you know, it's not good for your faith to just sit. It must be active. lf you could live in a controlled environment, as it were, you may get away with it. If everyday you were surrounded by faithful Christians, Bibles in hand, constant praise on their lips, your faith might survive your spiritual inactivity. If all you saw and heard and experienced all day, every day was goodness and purity, you might make it just sitting. But that's an existence we will only know in Heaven. And then we won’t even need the faith to run. (see 1 Corinthians 13:13).
While we are out in the elements, out where so much sin surrounds us waiting to produce spiritual rust, our faith must be worked, it must be driven. James once said that "faith without works is dead." Our daily Bible study oils it. Prayer keeps the fuel to it. The Lord's Supper each Sunday is an opportunity to "check under the hood" and examine my faithfulness (Read 1 Corinthians 11:28).
You may look good and spiritual on the outside. You may look like you're workin' good. What do you look like underneath? Don’t let it just sit. Do something. Produce some fruit. The less you use it, the less you will use it. And eventually, left sitting too long, you'll rust up. Then what are you worth?
The HMS Friday
Those of us who get frustrated with the pharisaical attitudes toward church tradition admittedly at times go to the other extreme. We so want to free our brethren from manmade rules and regulations and religious superstitious that we find ourselves using the same irrational logic and irresponsible behavior that we have accused the traditionalists of using. We obsess over eliminating a traditions just for eliminating's sake. This can backfire. Consider the following true account:
During the mid 1800's, when the British Navy was at its most powerful, the powers-that-be decided to disprove the tradition that Friday was an unlucky day. They commissioned the building of a large ship named HMS Friday; They made sure that construction began on a Friday. It was assigned a captain whose last name was Friday. It was launched on a Friday. Neither the ship nor the crew were ever heard from again!
The church does need to be reminded from time to time of what Isaiah stated, and Jesus himself later quoted, "...their teachings are but rules taught by men." We need to encourage each other NOT to bind ideas and practices upon each other which cannot be supported by God’s Word.
We should not, however, obsess over doing things in a new way, a different way just for new way's sake, or just to prove who supposedly understands more about the Bible. Wanting change so that I might satisfy my own ego and pride is as sinful as wanting tradition to satisfy the same.